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Career Information

Civil Engineers: Career, Salary and Education Information

Career Profile: What do Civil Engineers do?
Civil engineers supervise and direct the design and construction of roads, bridges, water supply systems, and structures. They take the local environment into account, anticipating earthquakes and hurricanes as well as the stress of daily use. Civil engineers, who work in engineering's oldest discipline, have long been valued for their ability to create the structures and systems used every day.

Citizens rely on civil engineers to keep structures safe and create new systems for more efficient living. These specialized engineers can be found wherever population growth and expansion call for new or updated transportation, structural, and geotechnical engineering.

A Day in the Life of a Civil Engineer
Civil engineers comprise the most popular engineering specialty, with 256,000 engineers nationwide in the field. The daily duties of individual civil engineers depend on job specializations. A large amount of technical and computer work is typically required, and civil engineers must be familiar with different schematics, maps, and drafting software.

The career may require travel, as civil engineers move from place to place to work on different projects. Civil engineers can spend time outside, surveying the progress of construction and taking a close look at problems.

Civil Engineer Training and Education
A bachelor's degree is the standard for many entry-level jobs in civil engineering, although more advanced careers may require more training via traditional or online grad schools. All engineers offering their services directly to the public must be licensed and many civil engineers hold official professional engineer (PE) certification.

Training programs tend to group courses into different emphases, typically geotechnical engineering, structural engineering, and transportation engineering. Popular coursework includes instruction in surveying, highway engineering, land surveying, water quality engineering, and computer methods.

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Civil Engineer Employment & Outlook
Civil engineers should be the largest job increase among all engineers in the coming years, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports. An 18 percent employment growth is expected with 46,000 jobs across the civil engineering industry.

The increase is due in part to a general population growth and the related need to improve civil infrastructure nationwide. Civil engineers are needed to repair existing roads and other public structures, as well as design and create new structures. An increasing emphasis on "green" building is expected to increase the need for civil engineers with experience in pollution control systems.

Typical Civil Engineer Salary
Mean annual wages for civil engineers was $75,230 in 2007, according to the BLS. Those working in architectural, engineering, and related services saw earnings of $76,540, while those working for state and local government earned $67,880 and $74,030, respectively. The state of Washington had the highest concentration of civil engineers in 2007, with mean annual earnings of $77,540.

Sources
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Engineers
Cal Poly Civil Engineering